Black Forest Inspired Cake

Black Forest Inspired Cake

Ah, October. A fine fall month complete with Halloween. It’s a time for pumpkins and apples, for sweaters and golden leaves ripe for crunching underfoot. So, uh, why have I chosen to post a ratio recipe for a Black Forest Cake?

October is also the month for Oktoberfest. Since I grew up in Southern California, crunchy leaves were rare and the sweater was ditched before nine in the morning. It was kind of hard to get into fall. Fall in Southern California means cold mornings and nights and sweltering in between. Pumpkins and apples were kind of meh to my family and me. But I took German in high school. No clue why, really. But I took it all four years, so I knew a lot about Oktoberfest by the time I graduated. I’m not a big fan of pumpkins and apples, but I am a big fan of cake. So…a black forest inspired cake it is!

Black Forest Cake in German is Schwartzwälder Kirschtorte. What a mouthful! Actually, I kind of think German for washing machine is worse. Anyways, it’s a chocolate cake with cherries, cherry liquor, whipped cream, and chocolate curls. I do not like any kind of alcohol. I don’t even stock rubbing alcohol, though my husband the scientist does have a bottle of isopropyl alcohol wandering around. That means my version does not have any alcohol, though it can certainly be added. For that reason, this isn’t a true Black Forest Cake. Hence the Black Forest Inspired Cake title.

And here we go!

The Long Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Prepare cake tin(s). The size and type depends on what you decide to use as well as how much batter you have. Personally, I prefer to use 2 eggs and 2 8-inch round tins. I line my tins with parchment paper and then grease liberally, but you can also grease liberally and coat with cocoa powder. That isn’t my favorite method as I still end up with cake stuck to the tin, but it works well enough.

Step 3: Take out the eggs and zero out your kitchen scale with a cup or bowl on top. Crack the eggs into it and check the final weight. I can tell you from much repetition that 2 large eggs weighs about the same as half a cup of butter (1 stick). One large egg weighs somewhere around 50g, usually between 47 and 52g. Don’t have large eggs? No problem! Just use what you have and weigh them. DO remember this number. You’ll need it later.

Step 4: Weigh your butter (or whatever fat you’d like to use. I just always use butter. Different fats will yield somewhat different cakes.). The butter and eggs should weigh approximately the same. So, if you have 2 eggs that weigh about 104, a stick of butter weighing about 113 is fine. If you want to be more exact, or need a different weight since you’re using fewer or more eggs, it’s easy to cut the butter so it weighs about the same as the eggs. The rule of thumb for all of these measurements is 20% of where they should be.

Step 5: Weigh the sugar. If you’re good at math, I’m insanely jealous. If you’re like me and numbers are your arch enemy, use a calculator. Now, remember the weight of your eggs? Double it. If your eggs weigh 100g, double it to 200g. That’s how much your sugar should weigh. Though if you prefer less sugar, you can absolutely reduce the amount. Just keep it within the 20%.

Step 6: Weigh the cocoa powder and flour together. Their combined weight should be about the same as twice the weight of the eggs. I usually start with the cocoa powder. I like it to weigh somewhere between 30 and 35g, but you can use as much or as little as you like. Next add the flour until the weight is twice that of the eggs. I like to sift the cocoa powder and flour while I’m weighing it, but that isn’t necessary. Add baking soda, but do not include it in the weight. The rule of thumb is 1 tsp baking powder per cup of flour, but, for 2 eggs, I just use 2 tsp baking powder.

Step 7: Weigh the liquid. Thought you were done with the egg weight? Nope. Your liquid should weigh the same as your eggs. The ratio for a high ratio cake holds that the eggs plus the liquid should equal the sugar. Hence, the eggs and liquid should weigh about the same. I usually use milk, but any liquid should work fine, and you can use more than one kind of liquid. I’ve done both milk and the liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries.

Now for the mixing.

Step 8: Make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature, especially the butter. It’ll mix much better that way. First, cream the butter and sugar. Make sure they become light yellow and fluffy, and ensure the butter is mixed well. You don’t want clumps of butter.

Step 9: Add the eggs and a splash of vanilla extract. Mix well.

Step 10: Add the dry ingredients and your liquid alternately and mix well after each addition.

Step 11: Pour into the prepared cake tins. It might sound funny, but gently drop the tins onto the counter a few times and then give them a good spin. I thought it was weird, but my cakes had a lot less doming. They weren’t completely flat, but were flatter than they were without the banging and spinning.

Step 12: Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

And now for the assembly. I’m not sure which part is easier: making the cake batter or assembling the cake.

Step 13: Cool the cakes completely. If you have a single cake, and it’s thick enough, slice it in half so you have two layers, or more. I usually make two separate cakes as I can’t cut anything in a straight line. You definitely don’t want me to slice a cake in half.

Step 14: Prepare a simple syrup of equal parts sugar and water. I also add some liquid from the maraschino cherries, though you can also add a cherry liquor or any other liquor. Please don’t ask me what would pair well. I have no idea! Just make sure the liquid and the sugar have the same measurement. Heat this until the sugar is completely dissolved. Brush the syrup onto both layers, or I think soaking the layers works well. I’m just afraid of the cake disintegrating if I soak them, so I just liberally brush the syrup on.

Step 15: Prepare a stabilized whipped cream. This is the only actual recipe I have for you:

Ingredients

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsps water
  • 1 tsp gelatin

Method

  1. Chill mixing bowl and whipping implement in the fridge, about 5-10 minutes. I do this for about 2 hours, just because I really like it cold.
  2. Prepare the gelatin by adding water to a microwave safe bowl and then the gelatin. Mix. Microwave for 10 seconds, until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Pour heavy cream into mixing bowl.
  4. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Whip until soft peaks form. These are the ones with peaks that lean over.
  6. Add the gelatin in a steady stream while continuing to whip, just at a bit of a lower speed. Then kick up the pace.
  7. If you’re going to color it, do it now. Then whip until stiff peaks form. These are the ones with peaks that don’t move.

Step 16: Spread a generous layer of whipped cream over the bottom layer. Then layer maraschino cherries sliced in half on top. Do not skimp on the cherries. Every bite should have at least one piece of cherry.

Step 17: Put the next cake layer on top. If you have a third layer, spread whipped cream on top of the second layer and then layer sliced maraschino cherries on top. Repeat until you run out of cake. The above instructions for the frosting is a bit too much for a 2 layer cake and possibly a little short for a 3 layer cake. I haven’t worked out the perfect measurements yet.

Step 18: Frost the whole cake with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate with chocolate curls and cherries and enjoy. My only tip here is to stick the cake into the fridge to let the whipped cream firm up.

Whew, that was long! It does take time to make this cake, but I like to think it’s worth it. I don’t have any chocolate curls on my pictured cake because my kids would eat the curls off and I don’t have any cherries because I ran out.

Black Forest Inspired Cake

The Simple Instructions

Ingredients

Cake

  • eggs
  • fat
  • flour
  • sugar
  • cocoa powder
  • liquid
  • baking powder
  • vanilla extract

Simple syrup

  • water
  • sugar
  • optional: liquor, liquid from maraschino cherries, etc.

Stabilized whipped cream

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsps water
  • 1 tsp gelatin

Directions

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare cake tins with liners or grease liberally.
  3. Weigh the eggs and butter so they weigh the same. Double the weight of the eggs and weigh the sugar to that number, though it can also be a little less. Weigh the cocoa powder and flour (combined) to twice the weight of the eggs. Add the baking powder (2 tsp for 2 eggs, otherwise 1 tsp per cup of flour) to the dry ingredients.
  4. Weigh the liquid so it weighs the same as the eggs.

The cake

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light yellow and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs and a splash of vanilla extract.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and liquid alternately, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Pour into cake tins and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The simple syrup

  1. Measure the water and sugar so they have the same measurement.
  2. Add any liquor or other flavoring.
  3. Heat over medium to low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.

The whipped cream frosting

  1. Chill mixing bowl and whipping implement in the fridge, about 5-10 minutes. I do this for about 2 hours, just because I really like it cold.
  2. Prepare the gelatin by adding water to a microwave safe bowl and then the gelatin. Mix. Microwave for 10 seconds, until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Pour heavy cream into mixing bowl.
  4. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Whip until soft peaks form. These are the ones with peaks that lean over.
  6. Add the gelatin in a steady stream while continuing to whip, just at a bit of a lower speed. Then kick up the pace.
  7. If you’re going to color it, do it now. Then whip until stiff peaks form. These are the ones with peaks that don’t move.

Assembly

  1. Liberally brush the simple syrup on top of the bottom later.
  2. Spread a generous layer of whipped cream on the bottom layer.
  3. Layer sliced maraschino cherries on top of the whipped cream. Do not skimp.
  4. Place the next layer on top. If you have more than two layers, repeat 1-3 until you reach the top layer.
  5. Frost the whole cake with the remaining whipped cream.
  6. Decorate with chocolate curls and cherries.
  7. Refrigerate until the whipped cream has set.

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8 thoughts on “Black Forest Inspired Cake”

      • Thank you! It looks delicious! I love to bake, but cake is my weakness. I only have 3 cake recipes that I can actually make well. My cakes always come out too dense or with a cornmeal texture 🤷🏻‍♀️

      • Oh, me, too! Though I’ve eaten so much cake lately that I’m actually a little tired of it. It’s good to have few good recipes to rely on; there are so many that aren’t as good as they say they are. I’ve read that flour and fat add structure and sugar and eggs add tenderness, so it’s possible there’s too much flour. I know when all the main ingredients are about equal, you get a pound cake and those can be quite dense.

  • Real vanilla extract is highly alcoholic, and you can get intoxicated if you drink a bottle. Just sayin’ to be a snot, lol.

    The posts you share make me want to try ratio baking, but it also seems pretty terrifying.

    • I have heard of alcoholics guzzling vanilla extract. Personally, I don’t think it even smells good enough to drink, but at least it makes cake taste good. Haha, just one more thing to remember to keep out of a child’s reach.

      Ratio baking terrified me, too, but I was getting tired of recipes. It requires more research and math than I’d like, but starting with cake was a really good way of easing into it. It’s hard to mess up the 1:1:1:1 ratio for a pound cake.

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